Growth...of our our walk with all things to worship HIM!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wrecked...All I Really Want This Christmas

Maybe it is the fact that Thanksgiving is so fresh on my mind.

Maybe it is the joyous Christmas season of celebrating the greatest gift ever given
and sharing priceless memories as a family.

Maybe it is the season where hearts are open to giving.

And where I am asked what I would like for Christmas.

Whatever the reason...
my heart, already wrecked for the orphan, breaks for those not yet chosen!!!

At times I wish God could place a viewfinder from my heart so folks could see the overwhelming love and pure joy that comes from adoption.  

I wish folks could truly see the priceless unconditional love that can come from welcoming an 
older or special needs child into your heart and home.  

How that love is planted, nurtured, and grows into something breath-taking.  

Oh how I long to remove the fear that holds so many wonderful families from stepping out!!

How can I better explain God's unwavering faithfulness
and that when HE places the lonely in family
HE will provide every step of the way as we step out in faith.

How do I help people understand why we are praying fervently for God to help us 
sell our beautiful home so that we can find something less expensive... 
freeing up finances to feed more treasures.   

I think the only way to express it is with the children themselves!

Have you gone to AdoptUSKids and looked at the GORGEOUS children who are 
legally free and waiting for a forever family??  

I can tell you...I have!  And I lose my heart each and every time!
If for nothing else, take the time to pray for each of these treasures 
to be placed in their forever family.  

When you realize how long it takes to say even a sentence prayer 
on behalf of each child in your home state alone....
then you begin to see the magnitude of children,
by no fault of their own, who wait for a family.

You can swing over to 
to see treasures from China who are in need of a forever family.  
Where you can see photo lists of children around the world 
longing for a forever family.  

There are many, many, many other places to learn of waiting children.  

But, I want to tell you about some beautiful faces that I have seen...
some I have wrapped my arms around...
who wait in the Philippines.
These are faces that, because of country restrictions, 
cannot have their photos on the web or social media.

Let me start by telling you about "J", a precious 12 year old boy 
that I had the pleasure of meeting and wrapping my arms around in January.  
This sweet spirited young man lives in an orphanage in the Philippines.  
"J" loves to run and play,
and has gentle eyes that can melt your heart.
Although he has some developmental delays...
his English is better than most in the orphanage!!  
He looked in my eyes, politely answered my questions, 
and was engaged for the duration of our conversation.  
Our oldest daughter, who also has a sweet spirit, 
was so very drawn to this young man!
They spent time talking and playing together. 
When I think of "J", and his tender heart,
I become overwhelmed with the reality that he has watched 
children leave for their forever family!!!! 
Can you imagine waiting your entire life for something as important as a family...
and regularly watching others that you have grown up with...
leave for their family??
I know God has hand picked a Mommy and Daddy for this treasure.  
And I am praying daily that his family will boldly step forward for their precious son!

This week I learned about a sibling group (16, 11, and 9 year old boys).  
Yes, my heart is wrecked again!!
The oldest brother is tall (compared to his brothers that he has his arms around) dark, and handsome.  He has a genuine, heartwarming smile as well.  The middle brother (who turned 11 yesterday) has a shy grin, and the youngest pumpkin has a glowing smile and cute little glasses:)
These three are very bright, healthy boys that long to have a family, an education, and a future!!
They need a family to step forward for them immediately because the oldest boy will turn 17 in February.  My understanding is that he can only be adopted with his siblings up until age 18 (The ICAB gives two extra years for children that are part of a sibling group).  Because of the length of the process, they need a family to step up NOW!!

What I really want for Christmas this year?  
I want families that have a heart for adoption to not allow fear, or money to stand in their way.  
I want "J", and the three brothers, to have a family willing to call them treasured sons.
I want people to see that when we ask Christ to break our heart for what breaks HIS...
we become wrecked for good and are willing to pray one more treasure into his/her forever family!!!

Please take a minute to watch my new favorite song...

And think about what you really want this Christmas:)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Too Good Not to Share

As God continues to stretch and grow us, 
there are times when we look to others, in the body of Christ, for encouragement. 

As my heart longs to be a mom of many, 
I often look to seasoned mamas who walk their lives outloud
being real, giving all glory to Christ.  

Although I have only met her in the bloggy world, 
Miss Linny, over at A Place Called Simplicity   
is one sweet mama of many that blesses me so very much!!

Because of her encouragement I am going to choose to share a
Memorial Box Monday Post as well:)

I shared in earlier posts of how God was so very faithful 
in providing every last penny we needed to adopt our son, 
and how HE went above and beyond to bless our socks off...
just because HE can!!

Over the past several months, 
we found ourselves in a difficult position financially.
No, I am not just talking about adding a teenage boy that can eat you out of house and home:):)

In what felt like a very short time, 
we had preparation for braces for one child,
extensive dental for another.
There were physicals, specialist consults, ultrasounds, 
and a surprise surgery.  
We had a need for an orthopedic specialist,
and three batteries of allergy testing.

Quite frankly, it was the making of a medical/dental snowball 
that felt as if it could consume us at any given moment.

I probably should not admit this, 
but at some point...we stopped opening the envelopes.
We just filed them unopened into a plastic bin.

The enemy of our soul wanted us to feel 

But the truth is friends...
We are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37).  

We knew in Christ's strength we could open the envelopes and calculate the debt accumulated.  
We had to know the total so we could hand it over to Christ 
and trust HIM to lead us in how to meet the need.

We tucked our children into bed, and took out "the bin".  
Together hubby and I opened, piled, organized, and calculated.

We wrote that ugly number down, circled it, and started petitioning for God to intervene.
We prayed together, we prayed alone, we prayed with the kids for God to provide.  

We had no idea where the money could come from.  
We had already completely cut everywhere we could conceive with our human minds.  

But GOD!!!

Two weeks after writing that number down...
God provided in one lump sum...
from a source we would have never guessed...

I can tell you God does not always answer within two weeks,
and rarely in my experience has he answered in one lump sum...

But what I can tell you is this...

in each and every circumstance!!!

And each time he answers the petitions of our heart,
our faith grows to new levels and we have confidence to step out boldly for HIM!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Time to Give Thanks

It is so very humbling to look back on all the ways 
Christ has stretched us as individuals and grown us as a family this year!!

We have so very much to be thankful for!!!

Often we share this special holiday with extended family or friends.  
This year we spent the day as a family of five.

Our newest treasure had many questions about 
what Thanksgiving is, what we will do, and of course...
what will we eat:)

He is not terribly fond of trying new foods 
so we decided to fill him up with some comfort foods for breakfast. 
(fried rice and toyu (salty fish cooked in oil)) 

I accomplished the baking yesterday.
(Homemade bread, Pumpkin Pie, and Lemon Sponge Pie 
(takes me back to my Pennsylvania roots and reminds me of home)

Today my hubby made the turkey AND the rest of the sides!
He is so very fabulous and blesses me tremendously!!!

The day was spent 
thanking the Lord for our many blessings,
making thankful crafts,
eating, eating, eating,
watching the parade on tv, 
playing board games,
watching football,
did I mention eating??!!??

And when it was time to go back for leftovers this evening,
our sweet boy asked if he could go back to his fish and rice:)
We all giggled until his fish fell into the cooling apple crisp...
life is never dull around here,
and we would never have it any other way!!!!

I pray that all of you in bloggy land had a 
blessed, Christ-centered holiday!

From our family to yours...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ugly Can Spill Out...

I made a commitment to live out loud 
as we grow in Christ and grow as a family.  

There are times that I am tempted to hide my raw emotions
and only share the victories on this faith journey. 

But I am reminded that I need to be real...
even when those feeling/emotions are raw and potentially ugly.

Yesterday, I felt broken
my heart hurt deeply
and somehow, the enemy of my soul whispered his ugly nothings
and tried to convinced me that I am not a good Christian
because of my fleshy feelings that I was experiencing.  

Let me explain...
I have shared openly that my heart's desire is to be a mom of many.  God has richly blessed our family with 4 priceless treasures (three in our home and one in heaven).  HE has grown us and broken our hearts for what breaks HIS.

We have prayed many times each and every day that God would lead us to the next treasures HE has hand picked for our home.  We pray as a family, the kids and I pray during our morning devotion time, and I cry out to God in my alone time with HIM.  We have knocked on many doors over the past ten months.  (we have tried to return to the Philippines earlier than the two year rule, and have pursued adoption through the foster system)  And so far it has not been God's will for our family.  The doors closed each time.  

With over 150 million orphans world wide...
with the fact that we are open to children from every nation, tribe, and tongue...
and the fact that we are open to children age 0-12 (because our baby girl would rather not remain the youngest...we adopted once out of birth order.  It is going very well but we want to respect this request for the next adoption)
Because we are not specific to a country or is at times unclear where to walk.  

I have specifically been praying that God would bring the next children to us.  That HE would remove all questions of who/where and bring our littles to us.  So when we are contacted, we walk through the door fully believing it could be answer to that prayer.  

Over the past months...
We were contacted about fostering (with a possibility of future adoption) a sibling group that we know personally.  We said yes, took steps forward as doors opened, and prepared our hearts for these treasures.  In the end it was not God's plan for the sweet littles or our family and the doors eventually closed.  

Five weeks ago we learned of an urgent plea to keep three siblings together from Colombia.  We stepped out and asked for information.  We learned that another family asked for their file before us.  We were happy that a family came forward for the children and had peace with the closed door.  

Last Monday we were contacted by a fabulous social worker that we worked with while pursuing domestic infant adoption.  We had not been in communication with her for a very long time.  She asked if we were still interested in adopting and if our home study was up to date.  A baby was born three days before and was in need of a family.  Once again my nose was to the carpet of our closet (my special prayer place) and I cried out to God to open doors...IF IT WAS HIS WILL.  In the end, it was not HIS perfect plan for the sweet treasure, or our family.  

Two days ago I got an email about the sibling group of three from Colombia.  The family that pulled their file was not interested in following through with the adoption.  The social worker wondered if we would still consider adopting them and if I would be available for a phone conversation the next morning.  Look at that, a door that was closed 5 weeks prior was back open.  We said yes please!!  We were back on our knees before the Lord seeking HIS will.  And, I was preparing a place in my heart and home for a 12, 9, and 6 year old.  I was also wrapping my mind around having THREE 13 year olds in my home at the same time.  (The oldest is 3 months younger than Kylee:):)

Yesterday I spoke to the social worker.  We had a very long conversation, and the social worker answered my many questions.  About 45 minutes into the conversation, after hearing much about the children and losing my heart to them, the social worker paused.  While talking to me, one of her co workers passed a note that said that they just got word that a family from another agency just sent a letter of intent to the powers that be in Colombia to adopt the sibling group.  Door closed....a second time:)

Bloggy friends, 
I know my Heavenly Father is completely in control!!  

I know he has a fabulous plan for our family.  

And I am confident that HE will continue to bring sweet treasures to our family in years to come.  

We have specifically prayed for HIS will and for HIM to open/close doors.  

I actually pray very regularly that HE would save me from myself and not allow me to go down a path that is not of HIM because my compassionate heart can get me in much trouble:)


At the same time...
I am human, I am a sinner saved by grace, I am selfish, and I have a mama's heart.
Because of this, as I sprint forward in what God has placed on my can be painful...and my ugly can spill out!!!  

I have shed many many tears over the past week.  I have asked God why he would allow me to know about situations that are not for me (I told you my fleshy selfish heart comes out!)  I have asked why HE would open doors again just to close them a second time.  

My mind knows the truth friends.  I pray MUCH for children on waiting lists around the world, I pray for every situation that God brings to my knowledge.  Each situation that appeared to be an open door leads to much prayer for the children, their caregivers, the birth family, and the adoptive family (whoever they may be).  

The obvious answer is that God brings about situations for me to pray.  

And he uses every single situation for my grow me in my walk with HIM.

Where my fleshy, human, selfish heart comes in is that I want to also walk forward to fill our home.  When I see the gorgeous eyes of littles needing a home, or hear their story...I want to be their mama.  

I know I cannot parent them all.  Aaron actually teases me regularly about having a couple million:):)  (He is also the first to ask when the next children will come to our home and makes sure I haven't forgotten his vote is for boys:):)

I have been told that I need to choose to not be emotionally attached.  I have been told that some people can control their emotions better than others.  I have been told callously that the situations are not God's plan so I should be thankful and move on.  

My head truly knows to be thankful in all circumstances.  I know that I "should not" be wrecked over each closed door.  I know to be content in the waiting.  And God truly knows my heart in this journey.  

But friends, I am not a super Christian.  
I do not have it all together.  
I am  so.  not.  perfect.  
The truth is... my heart hurts.

I am letting my ugly hang out in this novel because I believe there are others out there that struggle in the waiting...struggle knowing the great need, having the heart to move, but not having a green light yet.  

There are others like me that are not perfect and have to be reminded to not only ask Christ to open doors and show His plan....but to cry out to father God to heal our aching heart and teach us to love the giver even more than the gift.  

There are others that need to wrap themselves in God's promises, physically cry out to HIM,  and get lost in his infinite goodness!!

So often we want to appear to have it all together.  We do not want to let the world see our ugly.  Because in our finite viewfinders, we do not see that others struggle with similar challenges.  

I am completely conscious of the fact that these endless words are for my benefit and may never resonate with someone else.  

But in the even you are struggling.  In the event your heart hurts for one reason or another...know that it is ok to hurt.  God made us in HIS image and desires for us to be like HIM.  

The process of stripping selfishness, and growing in love and compassion... for me...may be a painful process.  BUT, I know that Christ is full of love and compassion.  When I run to HIS arms, wrap myself in HIS truth, rest in HIS presence...HE will comfort and give me peace.  

I do not believe that we can prevent our ugly from rising up at times.  
The important thing is what we do when the ugly spills out!!  

Life Keeps Moving Forward

I have no real excuses for not keeping up with the blog writing side of things.  

I think there are seasons where I need to share it all out loud,

and seasons that I cherish the moment and ponder it in my heart.  

And, truth be told, there are seasons where you just hope that you can accomplish a great school day, your shirt isn't inside out, and there is a clean pair of socks somewhere in the house.

We have shared some fabulous moments as we grow together...

A very special young lady turned 13!!!!
and is growing into such a beautiful young woman!!
(I know...we need more locks for the house)

We spent the afternoon taking pictures at her favorite place...

 with her favorite 4 legged friends.

She went on a very special dinner date with her daddy!!
They talked about trusting daddy with her heart until it is time to give it to another.

 After their special date they came home to have cake and presents with the rest of the family.

We love you sweet girl and look forward to seeing what this next year brings!!

Aaron has made great strides over the past weeks as well.
He is not a tremendous risk taker.  
He likes to know what is planned and what is involved in a given activity.  
It took much courage for our sweet boy to try out for a competitive team!

For weeks he tried everything he could to get out of going to practice and games.
But that was his fear talking.  

Aaron is growing in confidence each time he walks on the court!!

Yesterday was a rough day for this mama.  (my next post for sure)
Aaron, looked at me and said, "Mommy, do you know that I love you?"

Oh the growth we have made!!!!!

Our oldest baby girl is growing as well.
She has been seeking God's will for her life
as we near the end of the first semester of her senior year.

Mélika has known since she was 13 that she wants to be a full time missionary.
The challenge has been to discern God's plan for getting her there.

Her youth pastor gave a challenge to the graduating seniors...
he asked them to consider putting their plans of college/jobs aside for one year
and GO to serve others and seek God's will for their life.
The catch is that they would not choose WHERE they would go.

Our daughter is absolutely beside herself excited
about where she is going and what she will be doing.
(I choose not to share the location online for her safety and those she may be interacting with)

Here father and I are also very very excited for this priceless opportunity
to be the hands and feet of Christ!!

And this will be just one more opportunity
to keep this mama on her knees before our Father God!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Seeing Beyond Ourselves

Everyone has a God given passion.

Something that moves you, 
motivates you, 
keeps you up at night.  

You do not have to be around me very long to know my heart...
and my passion!

God has broken my heart for children.
 ALL children.  
When I interact with children my face lights up
there is a bounce in my step
my voice turns musical
and my face has a ready smile.

Mix that love with the truth of children experiencing 
neglect, abuse, abandonment, institutionalization, hunger, and fear...

The recipe yields a mama bear of a woman driven to share the truth,
and advocate for children that cannot speak for themselves.  

I will not apologize for my passion,
or my one track conversations.

I have worked with beautiful treasures from our foster care system,
hugged on treasures from our son's previous orphanage,
and looked upon the hollow faces of street children 
living on a square of cardboard in a third world country.

I have prayed over children on photolists from the US and all over the world.

We adopted a six year old domestically,
a 12 year old internationally, 
and took in a pregnant teen during a time of crisis.

And we are chomping at the bit to jump back in the saddle and adopt again!!





Adoption is not for everyone.
There are some of you out there that are called to adopt
And you have given every excuse in the book. 

Some of you would rather not be stretched out of your comfort zone.
Some feel like the hoops that you have to jump through are just too large and far apart.
Some hide behind the fear of coming up with the fees associated with adoption, 
or how your lifestyle may change if you add more children to the family.   
And some of you are terrified of a past that a child may have experienced before coming to your family.

I am not judging you...
but from someone who was sitting on that side of the fence not so long ago,
I want to tell you that 

God does not call His children to easy.
(We can do easy on our own.  
He calls us to things that without HIS intervention...we will fail)

God extends peace, grace, and redemption.
(regardless of our past)

And where HE guides....HE provides!!!

Do not get me wrong...
I am not implying that adoption is a romantic airport photo experience every moment of the day.  Parenting is hard, whether a child came from your stomach or your heart.  

What I am saying is that we have no regrets to opening our hearts to God's will for our family!!
We have stretched, grown, and relied on Christ in ways we may never have experienced had we not been obedient to the call.  

I am saying that God created each child for a fabulous plan and purpose...
and all were made to be treasured and loved by a family.  

I pray that our family photo will grow by many more smiling faces in the years to come.

But I also pray that God will raise up a people who will confidently walk in obedience.

You may be the person to send funding to a child care facility.  
You may be the one to help families fund their adoption.
You may be one who goes on short term mission trips to care for orphans and street children.
You may be called to full time missions.
You may be called to open your heart and family to treasures by way of adoption.
Or you may be called to more than one of these things:)

You may be the mama to... 
-a sibling group of three boys from the Philippines (twin 15 yr and a 13 yr), 
a 12 year old boy with a gentle sweet spirit that I was privileged to meet,
or one of the other 124 currently on the Philippines special home finder's list
(the list is comprised of older children or those with special needs).

- 10 year old Rahiem from NC or one of the other 131 in this state alone. 
(104,000 across the United States)

- Little Shayla from Asia or one of the other 1,841 children listed on

The latest number I heard was 63,000,000 children around the world
 in need of a forever family.  

If you have made it this far in the post, and can't shake the feeling 
that God has placed adoption on your heart...
then friend, it is time to go to your knees and pray for God to show you where to begin!!

I promise it will not be easy, 
but oh it will be life changing for you, your family, that special treasure, and everyone around you!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Love me some family time!!

I keep thinking that our world will slow down and I will do better in the blogging department.  
Somehow one moment runs into the next, days pass, and with ability to share. 

The great news is that God is so very gracious and faithful!!
Our family has bonded well and my heart bubbles over with thankfulness!!

We have spent much time visiting with family and have entertained many house guests.  
Many have come to welcome Aaron into our circle of family and friends...
summer proved to be a great time for just that.

As we turned the corner into fall, God provided an amazing opportunity for our family to spend some peaceful alone time together...just the five of us!!

Let me set the stage...
we got a VERY late start!!  
We had hoped to arrive to our lake front camp site around 4pm.
Instead, we drove through thick rain and arrived after dark:)
I wish I had the camera out as we set camp on a cool, WINDY, rainy evening!!
We must have been a sight trying to hold down the tarp my hubby bravely installed over
 that new to us tent I mentioned in a previous post:)

The kids and I stood at each the dark...swaying in the wind.  The kids were cracking jokes and squealing, I was hiding under the tarp as I held my corner for all I was worth.  

Once the tent, tarp, and gear were set up, 
we did what any sensible camper would do at O'dark hundred, 
We stuffed our children with Oreos as a reward for their hard work and prepared for bed:)

As I exited our tent with my early morning risers 
(one excited to swim before breakfast, the other anxious to try to catch some breakfast)
my assumptions from the previous evening were confirmed...

There was no one within sight or hearing range.  
we even had the rest room facilities completely to ourselves!!!

They fished as the sun came up...

and we slowly worked on some breakfast.

There was lovin'...


swimming AND fishing...when you just can not choose:)

more fishing...who needs hip boots??!!??

There was reading

Oh I should not admit how much of the day I lounged there with a book:):)

Someone was a big girl and put her own worms on the hook

And someone gave me her, what do you mean these are my last two face:)

The first catch of the day

and the last:)

I just cannot get over the beautiful location!!

And while the girls were busy giggling in the tent...
my partners in crime played a friendly game of Catan by head lamp!! 

It was sad to leave our relaxing get away...but the memories will be with us for a lifetime!!
(I really was helping to pack up ya'll!!)

THEN...change gears...

Someone in these parts turned 17!!
When in the world did this happen???????????

Our oldest treasure has a slight obsession with Pinterest...
When I asked her about her cake for this year, she expressively shared how she found a picture of these cute little watermelon cupcakes.  
I was slightly disappointed I mean ready for the challenge when she shared that she really didn't want me to make them taste like watermelon.
So, this is her preference of Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cupcakes w/ Chai Cream Cheese frosting
Disguised as a fresh watermelon:)
I think they passed the test!!

We celebrated the day with an extra special surprise.
It was a non birthday, family surprise.  
Meet Tucker!!
He is an Aussiepooh (Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix)
 Even the big kid has lost his heart to him:):)
So, how big will this precious baby get...your guess is as good as mine:)
We can find out together!  

Our days are filled with homeschooling, walking the dogs, potty runs, board games, 
horseback riding for the girls, and basketball practices for our son.  
I have increased my tutoring with a precious young man that God has brought into our lives, 
and children's worship keeps my heart and body in shape.  

Our church activities are back in swing and we cannot get enough of being there!!!  
Even Aaron, our most recent treasure to come into the family rushes me out the door on church days!!!  Oh how that blesses this mama's heart:)

We continue to pray for God to show us who the next child/children will be to enter our forever family.  We have had doors close...and much peace as to how to move forward.  

BUT...this post is getting far too long...

so you will have to wait until the next one to see just what that involves!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer...a Time Gone By

Oh where, oh where did the summer go!!!

 In one sense I feel like it flew by and I missed it...

(like this sleeping cutie on one of our many road trips)

In another sense it feels like we have been going and going

and have raced circles around that old energizer bunny!!  

(or cow for our observance of Cow Appreciation Day at Chic-fil-a)

I've realized that I haven't even gotten the good camera out for most of the summer...
so I am thankful for my three kiddos and their love of silly cell phone shots!!

On the road again, corky sibling fun!!

Girly bonding

our son found ways of placing his remote control helicopter
in unforeseen places:)

 There has been a little summer shopping...


 and littles lovin'.

We have been to museums

You can dress us up...

but take us out at your own risk:)

We have visited with dear friends...

And horsed around!!

We have a new found LOVE of fishing...

and learned how to put up a new (to us) tent.

We have discovered a checker addiction...

and may have eaten too many s'mores:)

We have preserved a fire in the rain...

and confirmed that we are able to make the best of a difficult situation.
(the new to us tent is NOT waterproof)

We have discovered new methods for drying out gear...

even if it looks like she is driving a team of horses:)

Mélika and I spend a week loving on 48 sweet treasures from our 
county foster system
at a FABULOUS summer camp!!!
This merits it's own blog post but I am still a bit emotional to compose it.

So for now...Mélika's "construction boots" from the drama she took part in during the week 
will have to peek your interest:)

 We have filled the fridge with art work...

And tried new recipes.
(Our oldest found a banana egg pancakes recipe and put it to the test)

Mélika and I had a VERY adventurous overnight 
wait to register her for dual enrollment classes at a local community college.  
(that is worth it's own post as well but I will leave it at 

Someone over here had another birthday come around...

and we made more new friends!!

In retrospect...
I surely didn't sleep through the summer!
Nope, we took summer by the horns and enjoyed every last moment of it!!